MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More than 100 students at Memphis Academy of Health Sciences staged a walkout Tuesday morning, saying the charter school's administration hasn't addressed their concerns over the dismissal of the principal and the recent firing of the school's ACT prep teacher.
The walkout at the Northeast Memphis campus was peaceful but very vocal.
"We want answers," students chanted as they streamed out of the school.
The charter school's principal, Dr. Reginald Williams, was dismissed in August and the school's ACT teacher Patricia Ange was fired recently.
"Since we lost our principal, school has been going downhill," student Semaj Buckhalter said. "We've been losing teachers, good teachers that actually care about students' education. All we want to know is why."
Students and parents say they were initially told Williams was retiring at the end of this school year, but were then told during a recent contentious charter board meeting that he was indeed fired.
Students said Ange, who was outspoken during the meeting, was fired for supporting Williams.
Tuesday, some of the students who walked out said they agreed with Ange.
"All she did was tell the truth about the school, and she got fired for that," student Kiahna Noel said.
Parent advocacy group Memphis LIFT stood alongside students during the protest, expressing the same frustration.
"They haven't told us anything. They feel like they don't have to tell us anything," " said Sarah Carpenter with Memphis LIFT. "Yeah, we have the option to move our children but you came hear saying you were going to serve children. We shouldn't have to move our children."
A school official dodged questions about the recent terminations.
"We love our children, we love our community," said Rev. Derrick Joyce, director of administrative operations. "We continue to support the academic process here at Memphis Academy of Health Sciences."
But students say they will protest for as long as it takes.
"This is our time to shine. We need answers right here, right now," student Ebony Jackson said.
School administration said students will not be disciplined for taking part in the walkout. A spokesperson also says the school's director has "no comment" on today's events.